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Proceedings Paper

3D scanning and printing of airfoils for modular UAS
Author(s): Robert P. Dahlgren; Ethan A. Pinsker; Omar G Dary; Joab A. Ogunbiyi; Arash Alex Mazhari
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Paper Abstract

The NASA Ames Research Center has been developing small unmanned airborne systems (UAS) based upon remotecontrolled military aircraft such as the RQ-14 DragonEye and RQ-11 Raven manufactured by AeroVironment. The first step is replacing OEM avionics with COTS avionics that do not use military frequencies for command and control. 3D printing and other rapid prototyping techniques are used to graft RQ-14 components into new “FrankenEye” aircraft and RQ-11 components into new “FrankenRaven” airframes. To that end, it is necessary to design new components to concatenate wing sections into elongated wingspans, construct biplane architectures, attach payload pods, and add control surfaces. When making components such as wing splices it is critical that the curvature and angles of the splice identically match the existing wing at the mating surfaces. The RQ-14 has a thick, simple airfoil with a rectangular planform and no twist or dihedral which make splice development straightforward. On the other hand the RQ-11 has a much thinner sailplane-type airfoil having a tapered polyhedral planform. 3D scanning of the Raven wings with a NextEngine scanner could not capture the complex curvature of the high-performance RQ-11 airfoil, resulting in non-matching and even misshapen splice prototypes. To characterize the airfoil a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) was employed to measure the wing’s shape, fiducials and mounting features, enabling capture of the subtle curves of the airfoil and the leading and trailing edges with high fidelity. In conclusion, both rapid and traditional techniques are needed to precisely measure and fabricate wing splice components.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 February 2017
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 10095, Laser 3D Manufacturing IV, 100950J (24 February 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2253068
Show Author Affiliations
Robert P. Dahlgren, CSUMB/NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Ethan A. Pinsker, CSUMB/NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Omar G Dary, Purdue Univ. (United States)
Joab A. Ogunbiyi, Morgan State Univ. (United States)
Arash Alex Mazhari, SGT/NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10095:
Laser 3D Manufacturing IV
Bo Gu; Henry Helvajian; Alberto Piqué; Corey M. Dunsky; Jian Liu, Editor(s)

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